Saturday, August 29, 2020

____________________ WHY PAINT A BOAT YELLOW ? ___________________

Some may think that painting a boat yellow is somewhat counter intuitive and some what un-nautical. Classic white, various shades of blue or grey, and black for work boats is more the traditional norm and with the modern mass production of fiberglass boats, white hulls have become pretty ubiquitous.

One day while I was restoring my Zephyr and toying with the idea of painting the boat yellow I heard on the National NZ concert programme the announcer (when introducing the next piece of music) say that whenever he hears a Bassoon sonata or concerto he is convinced that the Bassoon is smiling!

That's how I feel about yellow - it's a colour that is always smiling.
So now I have a yellow boat. The colour yellow is happy and bright and positive and cheerful and reminds me of the sun and summer. It puts a smile on my face.


To date the colour record of sailing boats I have either built, purchased or restored in both timber and fiberglass has been:

Blue -  NZ 'P' Class "Panic"
Red -  NZ 'P' Class  "Elusive"
Red -  OK Dinghy   "Okere"
Blue, Grey, White - 30' Yacht "Mariner"s various colour iterations.
White -  Restored NZ 'P' Class "Dart"
White -  Restored NZ Starling Class (Sold before I could decide on a name).
Black -  Restored fiberglass clinker sailing dinghy "Scout"
White -  Laser "Echo"
Yellow - Restored NZ Zephyr Class "Slipstream"

Other boats have included various yacht tenders (all white) a blue sea kayak and yellow and white inflatable dinghies.

At the moment I own three sailing dinghies, a 30' yacht and it's dinghy tender - Five boats which is quite enough boats to be going on with. If I had more sense I would get rid of three of these especially as I am close to beginning a new build (watch this space).

Friday, August 28, 2020


If you look closely you can see that 'Scout' has a very long painter. Today it came in very useful.

"Why is the skipper looking so happy?" I hear you ask. Because he's sailing of course!

Today I did two circumnavigations of Limestone Island, stopping off on the way to check on the 20 plus Phohutukawa trees that I helped plant and maintain a few years ago. The wind was around 4 knots, gusting to 7 which made for very pleasant sailing conditions.

On the low lying island opposite Limestone Island I tied 'Scout' to a large white steel pole with the boats long and very useful painter.

With incoming tide there was no chance of 'Scout' being left high and dry. So I put on my ubiquitous Crocs which were made for boating but not for walking in sand which irritatingly seems to find its way into the shoes with a vengeance. But I put up with the sand to protect my feet.

I was glad to see the Pohutukawa trees doing so well. They were luxuriantly green and healthy. Ten of the twenty original trees have survived.

Limestone Island is a bird sanctuary with a permanent caretaker living on the island. On the second circumnavigation I sailed close to the shore. It was heartening to hear the calls of a number of native birds.

In the distance is the remnants of the old brick works that was active on the island in the early part of last century.

Voyage completed and back at the launching ramp. Limestone Island in the distance.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

____________ SAILING, CABER TOSSING AND GROWING OLD ____________

Today was the penultimate set of races of the combined Whangarei clubs winter racing series - one more to go. The forecast was for 10 knots rising throughout the day towards thunderstorms with 50 knots plus gusts. At the briefing we were told that we could get three races in and be off the water before the big wind came. None of this eventuated and the breeze never went over about 5 knots. As I type it's teeming with rain with a rising wind. The rain will give my sailing gear an excellent rinse of fresh water as it flaps like a row of flags on the washing line.

I sometimes wonder whether small boat sailors would make good caber tossers. Some of us have had a lifetimes practise lifting various masts of varying weights in and out of small boats. In my case my ancestry goes back to the Scottish Gunn clan. Perhaps I will turn up at next summers local Waipu Highland Games wearing my Gunn tartan armed with my Zephyr mast.

Prospective skipper with archetypal boat mast dreaming of becoming a small boat sailor.

Thanks to my brother Tony I have these photos of todays sailing. It's good to have some nice photos of the boat sailing. I think she looks good on the water and I am pleased with the colour I chose for the hull, but if I was to become particularly fashion conscious I should probably change the sail numbers to a red colour. It's important for us men to be colour coordinated when we try and make bold sailing statements.

A man and his boat. Despite how difficult it is becoming physically to launch and retrieve the boat it is still the retirement activity that I enjoy the most. Note that I said "launch and retrieve". The sailing is actually a breeze, even in very strong winds. It's the pulling of the boat back up the ramp that is becoming difficult. As my father used to say to me in his latter years, "It's a bugger getting old".

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

______________________ WINTER SERIES UPDATE ______________________

My Zephyr 'Slipstream's new rudder. The rudder head and permanently attached tiller are bare carbon fibre. The rudder blade is carbon fibre manufactured with a white gel coat covering 90% of the carbon fibre on the blade with a bare carbon fibre trailing edge. The white gel coat versions of these foils are easier to repair in the event of damage.
There have been 15 races to date in the Combined Clubs Winter Series. The racing consists of 3 back to back races at each of the clubs on a rotational basis. As each of the clubs are at different locations on Whangarei harbour it makes for three different, interesting venues. My placings to date have been:
10 First places.
2 Second places.
2 Third places.
1 Fourth place - for a total of 24 points.
After 15 races I continue to lead the series by 9 points.
There are 6 more races to go in the series.

After having spent the last 12 months doing a complete restoration on the boat these placings are very pleasing and justify all the hard work that went into this restoration and refurbishment.
The enhanced boat performance is due to a combination of small and big improvements in various areas which I outlined in the previous blog post.

I agree with one of my competitors who once said, "In yacht racing it's the nut behind the wheel that makes the difference and wins the races" - True enough I say, so long as it's a level playing field. I think the restoration has now created a level playing field. But the locals races are among differing classes of yachts and with different handicaps making up the mix. Although there are 3 Zephyrs that usually race I am the only Zephyr competing in this years winter series. The true test will be when I take the boat down to Auckland and race in true one design races in a fleet of other Zephyrs.
Having said that, one yardstick that is significant is the four hours I spent recently on the harbour racing against Don in his Zephyr 'Venture'. Before I did the restoration he was beating me in races by a country mile. During our friendly four hours of racing the boats were pretty evenly matched with Don (being 20kgs lighter than me) having a slight advantage downwind while I had a slight advantage upwind.

One of the main improvements has been a new set of light weight carbon fibre foils. These have made a palpable difference to the performance. The boat simply slips along without any turbulence around the rudder head at the stern and without that feeling in the tiller that the boat is dragging a small bucket. My line honours winning margins have increased significantly so that I am now able to save my handicap, something that in the past was problematic as it has been very difficult to get enough of a winning margin on the courses which are of moderate length to save my handicap.

 Above is a photograph from XPL Composites website. These are the bare carbon fibre versions of my new Zephyr foils.

 The dagger board has been finished in a similar manner to the rudder.

A good matching pair that are making a considerable contribution to the boats extra speed.

As I type this I am watching and listening to our Great Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern who is addressing the nation on television regarding a new community outbreak of Covid19 and the new lockdown procedures. I hope these dark times both in New Zealand and around the world pass sooner rather than later so that we can all go sailing again - literally and metaphorically.